Reader Tips Contest: Madrid, Barcelona, Valladolid, London, Newquay, Cornwall, Stansted

March 20, 2008

in Airports, Cheap Activities, Contest, Europe, Food, Reader Tips, Spain, Travel, United Kingdom

Per yesterday’s post, I’m off in April for my first trip to Spain and have tied in time in gateway country England as well. That’ll be 4.5 days in London, .5 days passing through Valladolid to Madrid (unless someone argues I should spend more time there), 4 days in Madrid, 3.5 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Newquay, and .5 days hanging around Stansted . . .

I’m turning once again to you, my wise and experienced readers, for your advice on these destinations. Have a favorite budget tapas bar? Know of a secret gem of a museum? Been hiking on the coast and found the best place to stop for fish and chips? Successfully killed seven hours between flights at Stansted? I want to hear it all!

Best tip for each location wins a small prize and my undying gratitude. Leave your suggestions as comments below.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Monday Roundup « Less Than a Shoestring
04.03.08 at 6:20 am
Baring My Budget: London, Take 2 « Less Than a Shoestring
04.28.08 at 4:08 pm

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meredith Franco Meyers 03.20.08 at 10:07 pm

Oh, fun topic!! I’m jealous you’ll be traveling…I’ve got lots of ideas. For tapas in Madrid, try Bazzaar Restaurant and get a coffee or glass of wine at Cafe Central later on. Good prices, great atmosphere. Take a look at this blog post.

By the way, did you see our most recent post on Barcelona where we mention you?

In London, get fish n’ chips at Rock & Sole Plaice (yes, it’s spelled Plaice, not place). A little more money than most others, but so worth it. And, fish n’ chips are much cheaper than any prix fixe I found at restaurants in London. Also, there’s a chain called Hummus Bros and I love their food! Very well priced and all over the city. Try a kebab too.

Here’s a good blog post on cheap eats in London:

Hope this helps – and happy travels!

2 lindsay 03.21.08 at 6:30 am

I slept in Stansted over night…the airport turns into some sort of refugee camp overnight. It was very, very cold…so if you’ll be napping I suggest a blanket of some kind. I don’t remember it being very sleep-friendly, so hopefully you’ll just be there in the day time.

Stansted was also the airport that RyanAir stranded me at (re: your last post!) I was flying through from Poland, on my way back to Spain (where I was living at the time.) All of their flights into southern Spain had been cancelled as the Spanish baggage handlers were on strike. On the Monday that I landed, the RyanAir people told me that they couldn’t get me back until Friday. I told them that was absolutely unacceptable…so they got me on a flight out of Liverpool in Sevilla on Wednesday. It was still quite a disaster. Luckily I had a friend lving in London who I was able to get in touch with…otherwise it would have been a couple of nights in Stansted!

For future reference, Liverpool is probably the airport that I enjoyed sleeping in the most. There are very cushy chairs upstairs!

I wish I could give you tips on Spain, but I lived in Sevilla primarily. I never made it up to Madrid or Barcelona. I don’t imagine that there are still oranges on the trees, but on the chance that there are — don’t eat them! They’re bitter oranges, used for making orange marmalade.

Enjoy your trip!

3 robinmadrid 03.21.08 at 1:53 pm

I’d suggust checking out for tips on what to see and do in and around Madrid.

Madridman Blog


4 Heatheronhertravels 03.24.08 at 7:45 pm

Hope you have fun on your spring tours – we’re off to Valencia also in a couple of weeks.

I have a couple of recent posts on Kew Gardens and Richmond,

Also some on Cornwall in the area close to Newquay

And if you fancy stopping for a day in Bristol on the way to Cornwall (your train will probably pass through anyway), then I’ll be happy to host you – let me know by e-mail if you’re interested.

5 Kat Dawes 03.25.08 at 9:09 pm

If you have an iPod, download one of the amazing new Podscrolls from Rough Guides which will give you a guide to the best places to eat and drink in London (probably not the cheapest though!). They have other cities, it’s just started and I hope they extend it.

Went for a lovely walk/explore in Newquay at the weekend…

And I love the Penwith area, if you haven’t been down there it’s worth the effort. It’s so wild and empty.

As for tips, I would say definitely go to Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, about 20 minutes north of Newquay (I think it’s on the bus route). If you want to get down to the beach make sure the tide’s out, though the steps were closed last time I went (three weeks ago or so, might be open now Easter’s upon us).

Bedruthan Steps is a great walk, it’s like the English Twelve Apostles!

Then (and this is the best bit!) take your wind-blown self to the cafe at the Carnewas car park (National Trust, you do have to pay to park there) and get a cream tea! One scone and a pot of tea is cheaper than the full cream tea by far. It’s very worth the money.

Anything else you want to know about Newquay, just ask! Cornwall is as far as I can travel at the moment, so I’m checking out as much of it as I can.

6 Heather Cowper 03.27.08 at 1:01 pm

Hi again

I came across this site which you might find useful for your Spanish trip – they have some interesting podcasts covering Madrid where I think they’re based.

7 Pierre van Eck 03.29.08 at 12:30 am

In Stansted I would recommend visiting Mountfitchet Castle (, London has a mass of freebie sights and events ( and for the other destinations I recommend a visit to where you can interact with locals and get firsthand advice.

8 Dana 04.02.08 at 10:52 pm

I’m not sure if you saw this already from the last time you went to London, (perhaps not, it looks like maybe they just posted it,) but NatGeo Traveler has a list of free things to do in London:

Free London

9 Zoe 04.03.08 at 3:08 pm

Just started reading your blog – am envious!! In the corporate world and only holidays to “travel” now…..anyways, in my free days before I caught Capitalism, I ADORED Madrid! The Prado (by Retiro Park, on Paseo del Prado) is amazing – a permanent exhibition (which I think they have now extended) and temporary exhibition side by side. Good layout, and a great day – free, I think on Wednesdays and Sundays….the Thyssen – just over the road from the Prado, past Cibeles, is more confusing. A historical trip through art from Medieval to Modern – leaves your head spinning. Also free on certain days. Parque de Retiro is free all the time – a great lazy walk, sit and people watch by the boating lake! Corrida de Toros, (bullfights) for those that fancy it, on Sunday evenings at Las Ventas – the metro goes directly there. Get your tickets the day before, should only be about 6euros if you opt for “sol” (sun) which will be fine in April….
Avoid eating in Plaza Major, at all costs!! It is very expensive. If you do go to a restaraunt, when asking for Tapas, ask for “medio racione”, which is a half portion – or “pincho”, meaning a small bit – otherwise you will get a plate full of very expensive food! One idea, if hungry but skint, is to go to the Cana y Tapas chain, which gives free tapas with every beer, or some of the smaller, old style bars, where the tapas is still free. Chocolateria de San Gines, in San Gines (just behind Plaza Mayor) is the best place to get Chocolate con Churros (a thick hot chocolate with donut like dipping straws) that Madrillenos usually have after a night out/for breakfast! The price there is the same whether you are sitting inside or out. For other bars, it is generally cheaper for you to sit at the bar – as in Italy….oooh – I miss it. Still, am off to Sevilla in July for 2 weeks, will definately have to pop back to Madrid again!! Enjoy……

10 Tina 04.08.08 at 8:18 am

For cheap hotel/motel accomodations in London, watch the Travel Lodge website (not US but UK site). They run specials all the time and I was able to stay in Covent Garden for 19 GBP or less then $40 a night in London over a weekend. Great price for that expensive city. Easy Jet has also started their own easy hotel, basically a very very small room, but they do run specials. If you don’t want to hostel it, these are the cheapest options I was able to find in private accomodations.
Have fun!

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